Luxembourg, 30 March 2021. – An opportunity rather than a risk: asteroid 99942 Apophis does not hit the Earth for at least another hundred years, the U.S. and the European space agencies found out.
Recent radar observations have ruled that out the near-Earth object would pose a risk of impacting Earth in 2068. Apophis which was discovered in 2004 had been identified as one of the most hazardous asteroids that could impact Earth.
Now, the results from a new radar observation campaign combined with precise orbit analysis have helped astronomers conclude that there is no such risk for at least hundred years, NASA and ESA said.
Apophis made a distant flyby of Earth around March 5.
On April 13, 2029, Apophis will pass less than 35,000 kilometers from our planet’s surface, ESA and NASA say; this is closer than the distance of geosynchronous satellites.
During that 2029 close approach, Apophis will be impacted by Earth’s gravity and visible to observers without the aid of a telescope or binoculars.
“(A)n unprecedented opportunity for astronomers to get a close-up view of a solar system relic that is now just a scientific curiosity and not an immediate hazard to our planet”, the U.S. agency concludes.